Guernsey grants 40 licenses to French ships

Guernsey grants 40 fishing licenses to French boats, so that they will be able to continue fishing in its waters as of February 1, 2022 (Loic VENANCE / AFP / Archives)

The government of the Anglo-Norman island of Guernsey granted 40 fishing licenses to French boats on Wednesday, which will be able to continue fishing in its waters as of February 1, 2022.

This announcement comes amid a showdown between Paris and London over post-Brexit fishing licenses, with the French government accusing the British of granting too few.

By adding three more ships to replace the ships that have left the French fleet, Guernsey will issue 43 licenses for 58 applications. They will be able to fish in the 6-12 nautical mile zone off Channel Island, as was the case before Brexit.

For the remaining 15 ships, “any additional data will be examined,” the Guernsey government said in a statement.

“As the deadline set by the European Commission approaches (which has asked the UK to resolve the license dispute by December 10), obtaining these 43 licenses is excellent news for our fishermen,” he said the French Minister of the Sea, Annick Girardin, told AFP.

British maritime areas
British maritime areas (Kenan AUGEARD / AFP)

“We, the European Commission and France, have come a long way in a few weeks with Guernsey. The efforts are bearing fruit and the work continues to give maximum visibility to professionals. The fight is not over: there are 111 licenses to obtain”, mainly from Jersey and London, he said.

For his part, the president of the Normandy regional fisheries committee, Dimitri Rogoff, told AFP that “when it comes to licenses, the account is good for Norman fishermen.” It remains to “discuss the technical points” but “things are going quite well,” he added.

The issue of fishing licenses is less problematic with Guernsey, which Paris considers a “reliable partner” in the negotiations, than with London and Jersey.

“Important step”

Guernsey Foreign Minister Jonathan Le Tocq praised a “milestone” in its licensing roadmap, hoping it would bring “certainty and stability.”

A French fishing boat blocks the entrance to the port of Saint-Malo, November 26, 2021
A French fishing boat blocks the entrance to the port of Saint-Malo on November 26, 2021 (Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP)

European fishermen can continue to work in UK waters as long as they can show that they have fished there before. But the French and the British argue over the nature and scope of the supporting documents that need to be provided.

Since January 1, 2021, France has obtained around a thousand fishing licenses in British waters and the Channel Islands, but Paris is still asking for around a hundred.

The European Commission recently asked London to resolve the post-Brexit dispute over fishing licenses with France by December 10.

France wants the situation of some thirty vessels, considered of “high priority”, to be resolved urgently, because they transport a large part of their catches in these British waters to which they no longer have access.

Post-Brexit, the UK is looking to forge new trade deals that are beneficial to its industries with countries around the world like Norway, with which a trade deal will come into effect on Wednesday.

This agreement provides for a reduction in customs duties on certain products, including certain fish and shellfish, but with the risk of increased competition for British fishermen.

spe-pau-clc-sb / lpt

Vince Fernandez

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